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In Conversation with Alyssa Martin

March 5, 2024 Photo by Drew Berry

Choreographer and artistic director of Rock Bottom Movement, Alyssa Martin, let’s us in on the inspiration behind the central character Sex Dalmatian, how the work has travelled and transformed in the year since we last saw it, and the absurdist approach that gave birth to this fabulous work.

What inspired you to develop the character Sex Dalmatian?  

Sex Dalmatian is the b-tch we’ve all needed to turn ourselves into in order to survive late-stage capitalism, and contemporary romance. As we started writing the character, we realized how much of ourselves and our world we could satirize through her antics. She’s complicated but driven. She’s impermeable yet wounded. Unfortunately she uses power as her bandaid. Before we wrote the play, she started as a ‘bit’ Pony Nicole Herauf and I would snap into, to try and get the others to laugh in rehearsal. I like to believe she’s the fun character that holds the nasty run-off of the Rock Bottom collective-brain as it interacts with the ambition necessary to have a career in this city! 

You’ve spent the past year showing Sex Dalmatian to audiences in different cities around the country. Can you share a bit about how the work and your relationship to it has evolved during this journey? 

The biggest blessing has been the number of artists, technicians and audiences we’ve been able to interact with. Every person who offers their energy to the development of the show, be it by stepping in to dance one of the roles, helping us lay the floor, zipping a dancer into the rat unitard in record time, or just watching, offers even further insight on how Sex Dalmatian can be interpreted. Traveling has offered some magical exchanges. Every conversation allows us to understand the work even further, and highlights perspectives we may never have met otherwise. It feels as though we’ve gotten to know the characters on a deeper level, and that deep understanding creates more space for in-the-moment play. So, it’s a little untethered in a fun way! 

Sex Dalmatian made its iconic, sold out debut right here at The Citadel! How does it feel to be back for an encore? 

It feels special! The premiere of a new work is always fraught with the vulnerability and anxiety that comes with wondering how it will go, so it feels like an absolute brain spa to’ve been able to get through that, process the response, work on the play, share it with new cities and then bring it back to celebrate. Plus, Sam Grist’s broken foot has healed and she’s back, and ready to rumble. 

Utter joy and cheeky humour are a central part of Rock Bottom Movement’s work, what fuels or inspires your ‘absurdist’ approach?   

Laughter helps us cope! So the humour is there because I’m trying to use it to break some tension in the room, which is such a gift of live performance. Often, the laughter comes because we’re making fun of a deeply painful or terrifying truth, and we laugh to scare it back. My favourite (amateur) absurdist dance researcher is my Mother, who would sit at hours of dance competitions and come up with the most hilarious interpretations of lyrical solos. It framed how I saw everything, and offered such a helpful perspective on it all. 

Sex Dalmatian
Choreographed by Alyssa Martin
March 6 – 9, 13 – 16, 2024
8PM @ The Citadel